Cameron’s ‘worry’ over legalising euthanasia

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

The Prime Minister has spoken of his “worry” about legalising euthanasia ahead of a debate on assisted dying in the House of Lords.

David Cameron said he was “not convinced that further steps need to be taken”, adding that “people might be being pushed into things that they don’t actually want for themselves”.

But he added he was “very happy” for a debate to be held in the House of Commons after Conservative MP Sir Richard Ottaway raised the issue during Prime Minister’s Questions.

On Friday former Labour Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer’s Bill on assisted dying, which proposes allowing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose to terminally ill patients judged to have less than six months to live, will come before the House of Lords for a second reading.

Speaking at PMQs, Sir Richard Ottaway, MP for Croydon South, said: “In the recent case of Nicklinson on the question of assisted dying, Lord Neuberger the President of the Supreme Court said that Parliament now had the opportunity to consider reform of the law in the knowledge that if Parliament doesn’t act, the courts may. This could raise serious constitutional issues.

“Does he agree that whatever your views on the subject the Other Place is to be commended for having a debate, but what the public really want is a debate in this House?”

Mr Cameron responded: “I think it is good a debate is being held and I am sure it will be worthwhile reading the debate that takes place on Friday in the Other Place.

“I am very happy for a debate to be held here and of course there are now opportunities for backbenchers to hold debates in the Chamber, and I am sure the new Leader of the House of Commons, who I am sure we all want to welcome to his place, will be listening carefully to that request.

“For myself I am not convinced that further steps need to be taken, I worry about legalising euthanasia and people might be being pushed into things that they don’t actually want for themselves, but by all means let’s have the debate.”

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey earlier said he had changed his mind on the issue of assisted dying, after considering cases like that of locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson and “the reality of needless suffering”.